The Danger of a Single Story

In class today, a professor showed this video. The speaker and her subject impacted me. How often do we view someone and only see part of their story? When in your life has someone done that to you?

Sadly, I must admit that I struggle with this at times. If we were to be honest, most people would confess to it as well. Seeing a person as black and white, good or bad, beautiful or ugly is so simple. However, it is very dangerous.

After being accosted in Oxford, one of my main struggles has been with homeless men. I cringe at the sight of them because I remember what one person did to me. By doing this, one story is replaying in my mind. That is how I would characterize all such people if I were not careful.

Being Catholic, Christian, a woman, home-schooled, white, mentally ill, anorexic, depressed, Aspergian, American, introverted – the list of how people have defined me with a single story could go on for many pages. Funnily enough, I am even more than all of those words added together. Who I am is more than what can be stereotyped or characterized about me.

We are all complex people with many stories. Yet, we are all similar people with diverse life paths. Those two statements might sound contrary, but they back each other up surprisingly well.

How many stories do you have? What about your cranky neighbor, troubled sister, bitter ex, or distracted bus driver? The exact number is probably easier to discover than how to use that information to care for and love others. Yet this is what we are most alive when we do.


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